I have got to the latest released book of this series. Apparently, there may be up to 17 of these books in this series. It was music to my ears when I read this.
I started this series late at night as it was something I could read on my phone, so I didn't keep my grumpy husband awake with the lamp on. It took me a little time to get into the first book as I worried straight away when I realised the protagonist was only 15 that it may be too young for me. However, after a couple of chapters, I was hooked. I stayed awake until 3 am to finish this book, and I have read all eight books that are available in 4 days. I am now going to rehab at my parent's house for the weekend!
It could easily be presumed that these books had only the themes such as; age/starting a new school/girly problems, and this was immediately what I thought would happen. However, these books had so much more depth to them, and that is what kept me gripped. The main character 'Sang' (Stupid name but I forgave her because the books were so good and I don't have to say it aloud) is a very interesting character. Rather than being just a shy inexperienced girl the author has taken it further. Through this book, we see that Sang is an introvert and very socially inept. She has suffered psychological bullying from both her parents. Her mother has indoctrinated her to believe the outside world is a terrible place, whereas her father just neglects her. The different dimensions that the author has crafted to make her main character are very well done. Even though the main character is sometimes irritatingly naive and timid, it doesn't ruin the novel because you are aware of the reasons behind her character flaws. So you have one side of her where she is timid and naive and then through her thoughts, she is actually rather witty and brave. It was fascinating to see the effects of being isolated and abused by your parents.
If the theme of abusive parents wasn't enough to entice you to read this series, then you have the boys and the mysterious Academy that they belong to. As I stated, there are many plot lines running through this novel giving it much dimensionality. In this series, Sang meets nine members of something called the Academy that is not a school but a covert organisation that makes groups from children at a young age; children that have broken backgrounds. It seems that they have them work for the greater good. However this is disputed and not made clear yet as it is a plot strand that will most likely drive the remaining novels. The academy and the mystery surrounding it adds a layer of intrigue and mystery and also action to this series. At the beginning of this series, Sang meets Kota and he stops her from running away and gives her a safe haven from her parents. We find out later that Sang wears her heart on her sleeve, and so he knows straight away that she is suffering. At the first initial meetings with each boy, I felt that the descriptions of them were very bland, and they just seemed like the same guy, and it feels a bit forced that they would all like her instantly and accept her straight away. It isn't until near the end that we find out that they are all from broken homes, and so they instantly connected with her because they could see she was too. Even though this irked me, a bit the fact that Sang doesn't understand why they like her either makes me feel better! (We can't both be stupid)
The further through the series you go the more the C. L. Stone expands upon each boy's personality. The author has nine different male characters that she has to explore and create realistic, individual personalities for. I think the fact that she even attempted this should be admired in itself. By the end of book 8 (the latest to be released), I felt like I knew all nine male characters personally and I was just as in love with them as Sang is. I mean who wouldn't want to read about nine very attractive boys that are part of a mysterious academy (that still isn't entirely explained) who are so gentle, caring and kind, while also having physical superiority and strength. They actually restore your faith in the opposite sex, while making you want to replace your husband/boyfriend. The authors ability to create the images of the boys are fantastic and by far my most favourite phrase was: 'he was perfection in leather shoes' I thought this was an amazing description, and I just want my husband to wear leather shoes so I can keep saying it.
Some people will not like the fact that in this book series, Polygamy is used in a positive way. I would never dream of having more than one husband, but the way in which the story is told it somehow manipulates you into agreeing with it, in this particular situation. I wouldn't have been able to choose out of the boys, as the author has opened them up to us, we know their weaknesses and the awful situations that they have been through and we basically know them inside out, and so we can't help but love them too. It is an interesting theme to explore, that of loving more than one person and I think it worked very well in this novel and dealt with very carefully.
As well as a realistic character the author also sends really positive messages to the reader throughout this series. It is targeted at Young Adults, and it is nice to think that they will be able to see that the world is not an entirely horrible place and that there are good people out there. A big theme that she plays with throughout the novel is the idea of trust. She shows us that it is important to be honest and shows us how much we can benefit from having someone that we can trust implicitly. She demonstrates to us that having the right friends and people in your life that you trust, you will become a better person as they will guide you and you can guide them. That is a lesson for everyone. I chose to marry my husband because he made me a better person so this message really resonated with me. We see Sang go from being detached and naive little girl, to a quietly confident and brave person because the boys in the novels have allowed her to become her true self. They have given her the tools and confidence to be brave and to experience the world. The fact that she feels by the end of book eight she can even consider applying to the Academy demonstrates how far her confidence has come along. The character development in this series is very well written, and it made you continue reading just to take this journey with Sang.
Another issue that the author tackles in book 8 is self-confidence. I think she does this really really well. The boys in the books seem to have it all, but the author has the character of Gabriel (one of the nine boys) experience a crisis of confidence. Not only does that show the reader that not everything is always as it seems but through this scenario, her message is very clear and I have written it below:
'There will always be people better, stronger, faster, as well as people who are weaker and slower. It doesn't make you better or worse. You are who you are.'
This echoes with my own self-esteem of which I have always struggled with and so reading this made my heart smile. It is such a wonderful way of putting it. It is a wonderful message to send all readers no matter their age, and there are phrases like this throughout the series making it a really positive and admirable read.
To conclude, this series drew me in and then spat me back out an exhausted and desperate mess waiting for the next installment. I really recommend this book series to anyone that enjoys Young Adult, that is looking for a series that they can follow and love, it is very well written if you consider the target audience while reading it. Yes, there are flaws in this series that I haven't really mentioned, but that is because when you consider the package as a whole you don't even remember the flaws in the novel.
The first book is free on Kindle is you decide you want to try it and see if you like it.